Children often use play and not words as a means of communicating.
Lately, the masses, including many teens, seem to be tuning into a trending Netflix show called “13 Reasons Why.” For those of you who aren’t yet familiar, it is a show focused on a high school girl named Hannah who committed suicide. The storyline dramatizes bullying, sexual assault, rape, drunk driving, slut shaming and suicide. If you’re a parent, you may be wondering how to talk to your children about this show and if it is even appropriate for them to watch these highly charged topics.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recently sent out guidelines for educators and parents on how to process the issues presented in the TV show. NASP does not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those with suicidal ideation, watch the series. Although many youth are able to differentiate between real life and a TV show, it’s vital to have proactive, intentional, and thoughtful conversations with your kids about the show. The key takeaways for these conversations recommended by NASP are that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available.
If your child does watch the show, here are 10 talking points parents may want to consider. Remember to listen carefully and try to hold judgements in order to open the opportunity for a deeper conversation.
- What was accurate about the show (e.g., bullying, high school drama), and what was portrayed unrealistically (e.g., the writers neglecting her mental health issues)?
- How do you think Hannah reacted to some of the events/interpersonal conflict in the show?
- What could she have done differently?
- Who could she have turned to for support?
- How else could Hannah have gotten her message across to the people who wronged her (rather than making tapes about them and choosing to end her life)?
- What do you think are the warning signs of suicidal ideation?
- Do you think any of your friends or classmates show suicide warning signs?
- What do you think you should do if you think that someone you know is contemplating suicide?
- What could you do in similar situations?
- Have you ever thought about suicide?
What other talking points have you discussed? Let us know below in the comments.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need more support, check out our services, which include parent guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Suicide is never a solution and there is help: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “START” to 741741.
Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Brandy Baker, Psy.D., and Meg Beardmore, M.A.
Image Credit: Netflix